« PreviousContinue »
THE BROKEN HEART. 1. Every one should know the tragical story of young Emmet," the Irish patriot; it is too touching to be soon forgotten. During the troubles in Ireland, he was tried, condemned, and executed, on a charge of treason. His fate made a deep impression on public sympathy. He was so young, so intelligent, so generous, so brave, —so everything that we are apt to like in a young man. His conduct under trial, too, was so lofty and intrepid.
2. The noble indignation with which he repelled the charge of treason against his country, the eloquent vindication of his name, and his pathetic appeal to posterity, in the hopeless hour of condemnation,-all these entered deeply into every generous bosom, and even his enemies lamented the stern policy that would be satisfied with nothing short of his execution.
3. There was one heart, however, whose anguish it would be impossible to describe. In happier days and fairer fortunes he had won the affections of a beautiful and interesting girl, the daughter of a late celebrated Irish barrister. She loved him with the disinterested fervour of a woman's first and early love. When every worldly maxim arrayed itself against him, when he was blasted in fortune, and when disgrace and danger darkened around
his name, she loved him the more ardently for his very sufferings.
4. If, then, his fate could awaken the sympathy even of his foes, what must have been the agony of her whose whole soul was occupied by his image ? Let those tell who have had the portals of the tomb suddenly closed between them and the being they most loved on earth,—who have sat at its threshold, as one shut out in a cold and lonely world, whence all that was most lovely and loving had departed.
5. But then the horrors of such a grave!so frightful, so dishonoured! There was nothing for memory to dwell on that could soothe the pang of separation,-none of those tender though melancholy circumstances that endear the parting scene,-nothing to melt sorrow into those blessed tears, sent, like the dews of heaven, to revive the heart in the parching hour of anguish.
6. To render her widowed situation more desolate, she had incurred her father's displeasure by her unfortunate attachment, and was an exile from the paternal roof. But could the sympathy and kind offices of friends have reached a spirit so shocked and driven in by horror, she would have experienced no want of consolation; for the Irish are a people of quick and generous sensibilities. The most delicate and cherishing attentions were paid to her by families of wealth and distinction.
7. She was led into society, and they tried all kinds of occupation and amusement to dissipate lier grief, and wean her from the tragical story of her lover. But it was all in vain. She never objected to frequent the haunts of pleasure, but she was as much alone there as in the depths of solitude. She walked about in a sad reverie, apparently unconscious of the world around her.
8. The person who told me her story had seen her at a masquerade. There can be no exhibition of far-gone wretchedness more striking and painful than to meet it in such a scene, -to find it wandering like a spectre, lonely and joyless, where all around is gay,—to see it dressed out in the trappings of mirth, and looking so wan and woe-begone, as if it had tried in vain to cheat the poor heart into a momentary forgetfulness of sorrow.
9. After strolling through the splendid rooms and giddy crowd with an air of utter abstraction, she sat herself down on the steps of an orchestra, and, looking about for some time with a vacant air that showed her insensibility to the garish scene, she began, with the capriciousness of a sickly heart, to warble a little plaintive air. She had an exquisite voice; but on this occasion it was so simple, so touching, it breathed forth such a soul of wretchedness, that she drew a crowd mute and silent around her, and melted every one into tears.
10. The story of one so true and tender could not but excite great interest in a country remarkable for enthusiasm. It completely won the heart of a brave officer, who paid his addresses to her, and thought that one so true to the dead could not but prove affectionate to the living. She declined his attentions, for her heart and mind were exclusively occupied with the memory of her former lover.
11. The officer persisted in his suit, and at length succeeded in gaining her hand, though with the solemn assurance that her heart was unalterably another’s.
12. He took her with him to Sicily, hoping that a change of scene might wear out the remembrance of early woes.
She was an amiable and exemplary wife, and made an effort to be a happy one; but nothing could cure the silent and devouring melancholy that had entered into her very soul. She wasted away in a slow but hopeless decline, and at length sank into the grave, the victim of a broken heart.
13. It was on her that Moore, the distinguished Irish poet, composed the following lines :
“She is far from the land where her young
“She sings the wild songs of her dear native
plains, Every note which he loved awaking ;Ah! little they think, who delight in her
strains, How the heart of the minstrel is break
“He had lived for his love, for his country he
died, They were all that to life had entwined
him; Nor soon shall the tears of his country be
Nor long will his love stay behind him ! “Oh! make her a grave where the sunbeams
rest When they promise a glorious morrow, They'll shine o'er her sleep like a smile from
the west, From her own loved island of sorrow !”
1 Emmet (Robert), a young Irish
barrister who took part in the rebellion of 1798, and was exe
cuted in 1803. 2 Vindication, defence.
3 The daughter, Miss Curran,
daughter of the great Irish lawyer
and wit, John Philpot Curran. 4 Masquerade, a masked ball.